CAP health check: not quite the right prescription, says Atkins

But this is just the initial consultation

Brussels, 20th November 2007 – The European Commission’s communication on the long-awaited Common Agricultural Policy ‘health check’ is a foundation to build upon, but the proposals do not go far enough, Sir Robert Atkins MEP, Conservative Deputy Leader in the European Parliament, said today.

The health check is the first overhaul of the CAP since the introduction of the Single Farm Payment scheme in 2003/4. It seeks to update and simplify the scheme, adapt the CAP to new challenges like food security and make it more relevant to the modern world by moving more money away from direct subsidies into areas like environmental stewardship.

Sir Robert has urged the European Commissioner to be bolder when final detailed proposals are published next year. In particular, Conservatives would like to see firmer proposals on the simplification of regulations known as ‘cross compliance’ and a greater amount of money moved from Direct Payments into environmental schemes through compulsory ‘modulation’.

Sir Robert said:

“The Commission has identified the root cause of the disease, but its prescription is not quite adequate.

“These proposals are not nearly as radical as I would have liked, but we do now have something we can work with.

“With the livestock sector under so much pressure and considering they often farm in areas of high landscape value, there is a case for moving support across from cereal production to livestock farmers.

“Not enough is being done to fight overzealous regulation and I would like to see more money moved from Direct Payments into environmental schemes.

“The Commission’s proposals will benefit rural communities in the UK but not as much as I would have hoped and we will now work to strengthen them.

“The European Parliament is planning to stamp its authority on these reforms and I will encourage the Commission to be bolder when it brings forward concrete proposals.

“Further reform of the CAP is needed to bring it up to date with the trials we face in the 21st century. The challenges facing farming today are as numerous as the opportunities and we need a CAP that will embrace the opportunities and minimise the threats.”

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